Getting the Basics of Technical Training Right

Monday, March 5, 2012

Technical Training can be hard to create. Course developers are doubly challenged: they must complete all the regular challenges of writing and putting together courseware, but they must do it by using words and concepts they don’t fully understand. And this is just one obstacle they may face. Among other things, constant updates in product offerings and changes in best operational practices can leave them confused or frustrated. It is no wonder that many technical training projects fade into oblivion or never get finished on time. However, not all hope is lost. Technical Training Basics explores strategies available to streamline technical training development. Some of these tactics include:

Create the right development team – Of course this involves selecting the subject matter expert (SME) that’s right for the job, but it also includes making sure that you as the developer also focus on a few things – namely, communication skills.

Start the project off right – Asking the right questions is important at the beginning of a technical project. Sometimes irrelevant technical content is included in a class because, well, no other content seems to exist. This doesn’t make it right, however. Technical Training Basics explores how to ask questions to your SME to lead you to relevant and valuable content and it also offers suggestions for internal and external sources of information.

Effectively work with your SME – Yes, we are returning to the communication theme again. Many of the strategies mentioned in the book are really targeted communication strategies. Learn about the different ways you can effectively work with your SME – everything from explaining project roles to preparing your SME for the pilot course.

Make your course interactive – Just because you have a highly technical topic doesn’t mean that you have to have a highly boring course. Like any good training design, technical course design should include exercises and activities to support your course objectives. Suggestions and ideas for exercises are included in the book.


Hang in there! – Technical training development is not for the faint of heart. Common challenges and solutions to technical training development are discussed in the book, and you will find that a lot of what makes you successful as a developer is your own ability to problem solve, communicate and persevere.

Technical training development is always going to have its challenges. But with a little focus and preparation, you can be successful in your projects and produce a valuable end product.


Sarah Wakefield, Author of Technical-Training-Basics



About the Author
Sarah Wakefield is a technical training supervisor for Schlumberger Limited in Houston. Her primary responsibility is managing the design and development of technical training courses for audiences in locations such as the United States, Europe, South America, the Middle East, Russia, China, and North Africa. Before this, Sarah worked as a curriculum designer for various organizations. Sarah also was an instructor of communication, writing, and life success courses at Ivy Tech State College and at Purdue University in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Sarah holds a master's degree in communication from Purdue, as well as a bachelor's degree from Purdue with a double major in professional writing and psychology.
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